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Chicken, preserved lemon and olive tagine

By Nikki K on 2nd Oct, 2016

Chicken, preserved lemon and olive tagine


  1. 4 hours before eating, start making the marinade. Finely chop the onion (or use a food processor), and place in a large shallow glass dish.
  2. Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Peel and then finely grate the ginger. Chop the coriander leaves. Add these to the marinade.
  3. Add the pinch of sea salt, the juice of the lemon, the olive oil and the saffron threads to the marinade dish and mix it all together.
  4. Place the chicken pieces in the marinade dish and rub the marinade mixture all over each piece of chicken. Cover the dish and place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to marinade.
  5. Clarify the butter (see tip below for technique). Pour the yellow butter oil into a large deep frying pan with a lid and put to one side.
  6. An hour before eating heat the butter oil in the pan on the hob, until it's really hot.
  7. Brush excess marinade mixture off the chicken pieces and place them in one layer in the hot butter oil in the pan, skin-side down, to brown.
  8. Then turn the chicken pieces over to brown on the other side.
  9. Add the marinade mixture to the chicken pieces in the pan, and top up with enough chicken stock so that the liquid comes about 2/3 up the chicken pieces (c. 250ml depending on your pan).
  10. Put lid on the pan, turn down heat to a gentle simmer and cook on the hob for about 40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces half-way through so they cook evenly.
  11. Prepare the preserved lemon peel (see tip below for technique).
  12. Drain and rinse pitted olives. Strip thyme leave from sprigs.
  13. When chicken has simmered for 40 minutes, scatter the chopped preserved lemon peel, green olives and thyme across the pan. Turn the chicken pieces again, and top up with a little stock if the level has dropped. Replace the lid and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  14. Peel baby carrots and cut off the tops. Steam for 10 minutes.
  15. In the last 5 minutes of cooking make up couscous as per packet instructions.
  16. Serve as soon as the couscous is ready, sharing the couscous, chicken pieces, olives, carrots and lemony tagine sauce between 4 wide shallow bowls

Recipe Notes

  • Clarified butter is good as it does not burn like normal butter. To clarify the butter put it in a small microwaveable dish and microwave for 3o seconds. Do 30 seconds more if needed to melt fully. Then pour the yellow butter oil (this is the clarified butter) out into a pan, without any of the white buttermilk residue underneath.
  • To prepare a preserved lemon quarter - first remove all the lemon segment flesh. Then put it (rind side down) on a chopping board and use a small sharp knife (pointing the blade away from you) to carefully slice/scrape all the whiter pith off, repeating this until you are left with very thin, almost translucent, layer of preserved peel. 
  • For more flavourful couscous, add a tablespoon of good olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt to the boiling water before adding the couscous.
  • Scatter toasted almond flakes over the chicken when you serve up for additional crunch.
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